Letters to the Editor

Yale Police odorously compared to Barney Rubble

To the Editor:

In your article “Dow bails out Yale’s accused” (Oct. 4), local criminal defense lawyer Norman Pattis is quoted as saying, “The YPD is a bunch of Barney Rubble wannabes”. Yet Barney Rubble, despite some critical confusion about his occupation, seems to have worked alongside his best friend and Platonic Life Partner, Fred Flintstone, at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company during the Paleolithic Era. Rubble is not known to have been professionally employed in law enforcement, either for the city of Bedrock, or for a local college (Shale University?).

I believe Mr. Pattis wished to compare the YPD to Bernard P. ‘Barney’ Fife, a deputy for the overstressed sheriff’s department in Mayberry, N.C. It is true that Deputy Fife was grandiose, panicky, and incompetent (Wikipedia describes him as “often overly … alarmist about benign situations, such as the modest Mayberry crime scene … passionate about law enforcement, regularly spouting off penal codes and ordinances to thugs and jaywalkers alike.”) However, Fife was typically gentle in his treatment of intoxicated public urinators such as Mayberry’s town drunk Otis Campbell, and even acted (semi-)professionally towards the local perpetrator of disturbing incidents of vandalism, anonymous messages and harassment, Ernest T. Bass.

Fife acted with restrain in his dealings with Campbell and Bass, although neither of them were privileged undergrads at an elite university, nor financially capable of hiring a lawyer such as Willie Dow. Furthermore, Sheriff Andy Taylor wisely limited Fife to one bullet (which he was instructed to keep in his shirt pocket, not loaded in his .38), and Griffith would never have issued the inept Fife anything as dangerous as a Taser or even Pepper Spray. Other analogies for Mr. Pattis to employ in the future when he next denounces the YPD: Springfield’s Police Chief Clancy Wiggum; Messina’s Constable Dogberry. Although he should remember, as Dogberry himself noted, that “Comparisons are odorous.” (“Much Ado About Nothing”, Act 3, Scene V.)

James J. Caudle

Oct. 4

Caudle is an Associate Editor for the Yale Boswell Editions.

Johnston: Contraception no panacea for rise in rates of abortion

To the Editor:

The letters that appeared in this space yesterday misrepresented my column “Contraceptive culture fosters irresponsibility.” Miss Murphy attacked the view, attributed to me, that those who get abortions are “promiscuous, egocentric women who view abortions as an instant, convenient cure-all.” That is not the view I expressed in the article. Rather, I praised the change in the pro-choice movement from considering abortion a positive good to considering it a necessary evil.

Thus, I agree with Miss Murphy that abortion is a “momentous decision that has emotional and physical repercussions” and, “right or wrong, these women will have to grapple with the magnitude of making that decision for the rest of their lives.” Miss Bernstein questioned the research underlying the claims of the article. The statistics explicitly and implicitly mentioned in my article came from the Guttmacher Institute, a research affiliate of Planned Parenthood.

Miss Bernstein also misquoted the article to suggest that I took a principled position against contraception per se. I stated the exact opposite in the article. Rather, the article suggested that pro-choicers who are legitimately interested in reducing the number of abortions should not see a panacea in the increased availability of contraception. Another statistic from Guttmacher will illustrate the point — a majority of the women who have abortions in America were using some kind of contraceptive in the month in which they became pregnant.

Despite these failures in communication, I very much appreciate the letters of Miss Murphy and Miss Bernstein because both recognize that abortion is problematic, even when legal. This is the recognition that I hope will bring pro-choicers together with pro-lifers to address the tragedy of abortion.

Peter Johnston

Oct. 4

Johnston is a junior in Saybrook College and a staff columnist for the News

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